Those wild crazy Macintosh computers

I substituted for a computer science teacher today. Her computer lab is full of Macs which is fine. I don’t dislike macs, I simply find them quirky and odd.

I discovered another quirk today.

Two of the Macs froze up. And I mean froze up. Not only could you not quit the programs, you also couldn’t hit any keys to reboot the computer. So PC’s do that too sometimes. But here’s the deal - the things would not switch off. I pressed the power button, and held it down for a good ten seconds. No luck.

The computers were stuck in the ‘on’ position and nothing would budge. (The mouse was moving, however.) (I mean the cursor, not the mouse itself… ;))

I dared not unplug them, I understand it’s very bad to unplug a running computer.

So they are still on. And they will be til the actual teacher gets to her classroom on Monday! (I hope she’s not mad.)

What the heck happened? What could I have done?


(PS On the PowerMacs, I could reboot by hitting Control+Apple+the little arrow at the top right of the keyboard. But there was no little arrow on the imacs in question. I tried Control-Apple-just about every key on the board, but no luck. I think it just wouldn’t do anything.)

Newer Macs use software-controlled power switched. If the machine crashes hard, they won’t work. You didn’t mention what model they were, but assuming they were a G3 or G4 desktop model, there is a small button underneath the power button on the case which can be pressed with a pen or screwdriver which will do a hard reset of the system.

Or you can just unplug it as a last resort. It won’t kill the thing.

Leaving the computers on over the weekend shouldn’t cause any problems.

On an iMac, you need to look to the right side, where the ports are, for the reset button. On the newer models, the reset button is a round button with a gray triangle symbol on it. It’s located below and to the right of the twin USB ports. You should be able to poke them with your fingertip. Older iMacs have the same gray triangle next to their reset buttons, which are located just to the right of the Ethernet port. They need to be pressed in with a pen or screwdriver.

My imac has a little, teeny holes behind where you plug in your keyboard, etc. on the right side of the computer, behind the little door where the cords come out. Get a paperclip, unbend it, and stick it in the second hole up from the bottom. If it is the same model as mine or close to it, it’ll restart the computer. Why they put it there, or made it so impossible to get to, your guess is as good as mine-we finally just took the port door off to make it easier!

In escalating order; if one doesn’t work, go on to the next:

1st step - “Apple” button and Q.

2nd step - “Apple”, Option, and Esc buttons

3rd step - the reset button

4th step - unplug

5th step - yell for help.

I have an iMac too. On the other Macintoshes with which I work, there is an emergency restart button, but for some reason it is missing on the iMac. Whenever it freezes up, I have to reach down and turn the surge protector off and then back on.

BTW, turning a running computer off doesn’t really hurt it that much. I’ve been doing it for years on various computers and have never had a problem arise from that. In the computer preferences panel, I just turn off the “check for bugs after improper shutdown” option. I think Windows doesn’t have an option for it, but even on those computers, I’ve never had a problem with it.

“I’ve got you now”, boasted Sheriff Pangborn as he grasped the cable, wrapping it once around his wrist. “Geez”, he muttered, “it’s thick and twisty like an umbilical cord. You could almost believe it was alive or something. If you were crazy as a loon. Or too drunk to be hanging out in the computer lab. Which I’m not, ha ha. Nope, not crazy and not drunk, although by God that’s not a bad idea.” He braced the heels of his heroic western boots against the data center’s linoleum and pulled with a steady pull.

Instead of pulling loose with the easy pop that one expects from a thick electrical cord, the iMac’s connection to the Maine State powertit jammed for a moment, then ripped loose so suddenly that the three-pronged plug flew back and bounced painfully against Pangborn’s lips, smashing them against his teeth. “Oh you motherf…ouch that hurts I’m bleeding I think my tooth is broken”.

The sheriff cupped his ruined mouth in his hand and acknowledged that he was developing a bitch of a headache. At least the infernal thing was finally


?? the cord is moving ??

don’t be silly, it’s on the floor
But it was, it was slithering across the floor. Uh huh, not crazy, no, not at all. Pangborn glanced at the iMac and found, instead of the reassuringly blank screen and dark hulk he was hoping for, a lime green shell lit with a whole 4th of July’s worth of pyrotechnics, and to dot the proverbial i, so to speak, the screen was

grinning at me
It was of course the Welcome to Macintosh logo, the cheerful blue hybrid smiling computer / smiling person, friendly and innocuous as a 1970s yellow smiley face. Except that this one somehow had a smug expression and that was some demented scowl on that face and oh shit the cord the cord

Pangborn spun, but too late, and the cord, coiled like a grey rattlesnake with polarized fangs, struck…

You might take the iMacs into the nearest CompUSA and get real computers. :wink:

Yea, G4 Towers :slight_smile:

My PC freezes like this fairly often - it’s a Gateway Astro. Not only does the off button depend on software to function, but they also got rid of the reboot button on this model. I wish I could knock together the heads of whoever thought it was OK to lose the reboot button before they lost the need for it. The only control that appears to have any effect is the line cord.

Allow me explain.

Both the Windows and Apple people have major R&D departments devoted to MLW innovation. MLW is trade jargon for ‘Make Life Weirder’. Essentially, these departments aim to come up with ideas which are puzzling and mysterious, obviously make life harder for consumers, confer no advantage, and which will never be explained.

I know all about this, based on my 18 years in IT plus lots of home/domestic experience with my own and friends’ computers. Most MLW depts. feature lateral-thinking geniuses stoned out of their trees, giggling themselves to death wondering just how inane a feature would have to be before customers actually complained or rejected the product.

Some MLW golden classics include:

  • the famous Windows ‘Start’ button to shut down
  • the Word paperclip of help
  • iMac citing the absence of a 3.5 drive as an advantage
  • machines you can’t reboot switch off or kill
  • Outlook’s famous incompatibility with various versions of itself
  • the mythology surrounding the ‘ease’ of Direct Cable Connection (a technology which has never worked for anyone I’ve ever met)
  • the sheer uselessness of the BSOD (why can’t it at least come up with some useful info or advice?)
  • region specific keyboards, as if the double quotes can’t be the same on a US keybaord as on a UK one
  • the fact that any anti-virus progs will consider any other as a virus
  • the number of anti-crash or crashguard progs that… cause the machine to crash!
  • the cost of inkjet cartridges (so ink costs more by weight than oil, right?)

and so on.

ianzin, you could add another to the list. A few years back the Gateway ads touted their new keyboard. The ad finishes with a flourish, “…and we nuked the inverted T”. They are referring, of course, to the only feature that is predictable, comfortable, and elegant on the entire damn keyboard. You gotta move the cursor around a little bit now and then in almost any application environment anybody has ever dreamed of, and you need something about a hundred times more convenient than the mouse, and the “inverted T” is the only feature that my fingers can find by themselves in a tenth of a second on almost any keyboard. And Gateway replaced it with a full square of keys, about half of which move the cursor along one of four diagonals. And I have cursed every time I have used one of these bastard monstrosity children. But that’s not enough. For some reason, these keyboards were amazingly reliable, so that they keep coming back from the junkpile to replace keyboards that were designed by reasonable people who type and built by slovenly dullards with inferior materials.

Another MLW nomination, also a Gateway feature:

The “key remap” button! Yep, just another key on the keyboard, easy to accidentally press, same as any other typo, and now, as you continue to type: the first key you type gets remapped to the second key you type; the third key you type gets remapped to the fourth key you type; and so on. Or at least I think that’s how it works.

So ayter awho;e, y1ir vct7ng hrws 29gc’; b92 v9xse4, see?
Yeah, that’s useful.

You missed one. Assuming you’re using a keyboard with a power button on it, you can do what Kris Rhodes did to the PowerMacs, which is:

2.5th step - Command (what some of y’all call the Apple key), Control, and Power on the keyboard.

Emphisis mine.

Those of us who are real old-time Mac users call it the “Open Apple Key.” (the one on the right side of the space bar was the “Closed Apple Key.” :slight_smile:

I’m as old of a Mac user as they come, and I have to snicker derisively at you on this one: that wasn’t a Mac thing, it was an Apple IIe thing. Macs have never had a “closed Apple key”.

For future reference you can hit command + power button on the kb and it will pull up a little box which lets you send certain debugging commands etc. Type G FINDER in the box and see if it shuts off the offending program. Works a lot of the time, even when force quit doesn’t. If this doesn’t work, try G SYSTEM, which will sometimes work, but will normally crash the system if nothing is wrong. Oh, these are pre OSX tips.

Ach! You caught me in a typo! Of course it was an Apple ][ thing. I meant (honestly!) to type "old-time Apple users. :slight_smile:

Some Mac shops sell a device to hit the hidden reset button. It looks like a big push pin, I mean, BIG like 4 inches. You just poke the little rod into the reset hole and the CPU shuts down. But a paper clip will work just as well.